Urban Geography by Micheal Pacione – Chapter 1 Notes

An urban vista.
  • The distribution of population, the organization of production, the structure of social reproduction and the allocation of power.
  • Urban geography seeks to explain the distribution of places and the socio-spatial similarities within them.
  • 19thC capitalism was “competitive capitalism”, Fordism (mass production, assembly lines, mass consumption) was “mutually beneficial”, now it’s globalized advanced/disorganized capitalism (a shift to services, esp. financial and niche markets) and each phase has changed the urban environment.
  • “the new international division of labour in which production is separated geographically from research and development and higher-level management operations”
  • The command economy created the “socialist city” of urban industrial development and large estates of public housing whereas there are capitalist tendencies to “suburbanisation and social differentiation”.
  • In the global-local nexus, global forces are held to be more powerful but cities modify and embed globalization in local context.
  • Globalization has highly uneven impacts and the unevenness is apparent at all levels (booming vs. declining regions, social polarization in one city etc.).
  • “In labour market terms globalisation is of relevance only for a small minority of workers with the skills necessary to compete in international labour markets”.
  • “Changes in the relative importance of geographic spaces/scales are reflected in changes in the distribution of power among social groups”.
  • The “hollowing out of the state thesis” contends that the nation-state has been disempowered relative to the local and supranational.

Completely dead space in the city

Fenced in.

This photo of a storefront in downtown Toronto shows completely dead space. The chainlink fencing was recently installed making it newly dead space. I’m sure there’s an urban planning term for this type of situation.

Since the coincidence of Covid-19 and a huge run up in local housing costs, Toronto’s city centre has entered a whole new era of “houselessness” and street life. Basically, Toronto now has an “underclass” in the style of a USA city. This fact is obscured somewhat by a policy of hoteling the houseless.

It’s safe to assume that this fencing is a response to the new social situation. This “Subway” location happens to be across the street from one of the hotels functioning as temporary housing for a bunch of people on the wrong end of things.

Presumably the property owner is entitled to fence in his or her property even if it’s effectively been part of the sidewalk over the long term and even if there are no entrances (or anything else) to enclose.

This particular example of dead space really draws the eye as it’s well lit, in a high trafficked area and features a window into a busy retail location. It’s like a glowing cube.

John Duffy studies #3: Canadian Disagreements (technology, urban/rural and demographics)

  • Trudeau is trying to be the first “post-Laurentian Liberal”.
  • Laurentian elite: “The whispers in the common rooms at Queens, the easy murmurings at the Rideau Club, the things that happen in a cafeteria at the Place du Portage civil service benevolent society meeting” that way of doing business is gone.
  • Trudeau is out of that world/group.
  • That electoral coalition is out of his mind map. He is more attuned to young people and new Canadian communities.
  • We’re not even going back to the Martin coalition.
  • Trudeau: next, post, onward, forward.
  • A post-Laurentian world need not be a Conservative one.
  • Harper govt. operates with 21% of all men women and children, Harper governments never feel like a majority (they govern like they have to exert force and pressure in order to pass their agenda).
  • “The middle class hasn’t got a raise in 25/30 years”.
  • There’s great potential in the new supply chains for Canada’s traditional manufacturing communities to get back in the game (with support from governments).
  • The future could look like Japan where young people are working their hearts out to provide for the old. It’s not which Canada you want, it’s which Japan you want.
  • The question of energy and resources has become big since the 1970’s. We’re going to see more and more issues and political forms pertaining to energy.
  • This as opposed to the typical 20th century political divide over the role of govt. in the economy (socialism vs. capitalism).
  • “Technopolitics”: a clash between urban and rural. “Green” appeals to urban voters from progressive parties. Offerings to rural voters from conservatives put the environment on the back seat (Keystone, Gateway, drilling etc.). The vastness of the disagreement between urban and rural implies “the eclipse of the rural value system built around self-reliance”. It’s an argument about modernity.
  • A scientific/evidence basis for policy is a loose term that the Liberals are running with but it represents something much deeper. The regulation of biotech, the politics of science and technology, the vast explosion of tech etc. are an enormous challenge to our society relative to our tiny attention span.
  • Cites Shimon Peres: science/tech are fundamentally ungoverned and more important than politics. The young people are all about science/tech and you should become a scientist or entrepreneur if you really want to make a difference.
  • Politics is catching up one buzzword at a time.
  • On tech questions there tends to be a pro-producer and a pro-consumer viewpoint (GMO labeled on packaging for ex.). When it comes to technology a rural evangelical voter won’t necessarily take the pro-business, pro-producer argument.
  • It’s way more important how technology is governed vs. 2% more or less on whatever tax.
  • Andrew Coyne: It’s about technology understood as an existential question vs. lots of actually technological innovation (which isn’t happening).

Public opinion: the 905 vs. the 416

Note: This is a mini-essay derived from the report titled The 905 vs. the 416: Analysis of Portraits 2017 Regional Differences in Ontario published by the now defunct Mowat Centre. The report came out in 2017. The “905” is General Toronto Area shorthand for the immediate suburbs of Toronto proper.

It’s obvious that Toronto is very different from much of the rest of Ontario. But do Torontonians hold different beliefs compared to other Ontarians? Yes, the cliché is true, Toronto is a bubble.

It goes without saying that opinion in Toronto would differ from rural Ontario but how does Toronto compare to its vote-rich suburbs? As it turns out, quite a bit.

For one thing, residents of the 905 are much more likely to say that government has a negative impact on people’s lives at 47% of respondents with government-friendly Torontonians clocking in at a modest 33%. On a related note, the 905 is much more gung-ho about cutting taxes at 39% of respondents compared to Torontonians who ring in at a more complacent 31%.

Torontonians are inclined to rank climate change as a high priority (53%) whereas 905ers tend not to (39%). Torontonians are more likely to say the national economy is improving at 40% with the 905 registering a more pessimistic 33%. And finally, Torontonians are warmer towards accepting immigrants from conflict zones (56%) vs. the 905 (42%).

These results are all the more interesting when you consider that Toronto is divided between the wealthier areas along subway routes and the “inner suburbs” which—based various political outcomes—have at least as much in common with the 905 as with their bougie civic-fellows.

In conclusion, it seems there is a “bleeding heart” element to Toronto public opinion as compared to the 905. Toronto registers a more positive view of the role of government generally speaking. This is a predictable urban/collective vs. suburban/self-sufficient cleavage.

One last note: a major Conservative pollster and campaign operative is fond of saying that “Conservatives in Toronto are not like Conservatives in the rest of Canada.” So to some extent Toronto’s squishiness is bipartisan.